Learning to Understand -- An Ongoing Endeavor: Part III

Learning to Understand -- An Ongoing Endeavor: Part III

Author Joe Hackman

Mrs. R. Lounsbury, featured in Part I, is a physics and biology teacher at Charter and mother of Ms. A. Lounsbury.

Mrs. R. Lounsbury, featured in Part I, is a physics and biology teacher at Charter and mother of Ms. A. Lounsbury.

Ms. A. Lounsbury teaches English to sophomores and freshmen, this year being her second at Charter.  Upon completing her high school education at Charter in 2008, she attended Moravian College majoring in English and environmental science.  Then, she received a degree in English education from Columbia University.  Now, as a teacher, she helps lead Science Ambassadors, a program that provides a science-centered afternoon program to elementary schools in the area.  As a CSW alumnus, she has seen the school as both the student and teacher.  This has enlightened her with a unique perspective, with which she sheds light on learning in school.  

 

How do you think we could harness student's’ uniqueness?

Mrs. R. Lounsbury: I don’t necessarily think a kid in high school is finished [understanding him or herself].  It’s not a time to practice [one’s gifts], but rather discover them.  And that’s what I think learning to understand does.  There are some that are obvious, like a guy is excellent at basketball: he can shoot and aim.  That’s a skillset he can utilize in his life and then it’s just a question of how he can practice that.  So the whole process of learning is [discovering] what you’re capable of.  It applies to a lot of different intelligences: in knowledge, a particular field, a keen memory, communication with others.  The way you discover your gifts is by doing things and being exposed to them and I think high school is still a part of that.  Many kids don’t start thinking about their gifts until college, which is a good time, but . . . you should start in high school.  You don’t really know [then] and that’s why it’s important to not label yourself too early.  It’s not a good way to think because it’s not necessarily true.  I think teachers can see a lot, and students need to have discussions with their teachers about what they see in you.

Ms. A. Lounsbury: I have noticed, at this school in particular, students tend to label themselves [by their class phase] like, “Oh, I’m not good at this because I’m in phase four,” or “I’m pretty good at this because I’m in phase five,” which is sad and untrue.  All of my classes have awesome “Ah ha!” moments, which is why each class is so fun to discuss with!  They are different experiences because each individual in every class has a valuable skill to offer.  This is exactly why you can’t label yourself too early.  It’s interesting.  To think I may not be this phase, it does not mean you’re bad at [the subject], it just takes a little longer to pick up on those skills or your brain processes it in a different way.  Everyone’s good at something, they just have to discover what that is .  . . .  It’s interesting being a Charter student seeing how it affects you guys still.

R. Lounsbury: I think it’s exploring what your gifts are. When I was taking special ed, they gave out this form called an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  Some of the questions on there were “What is this student good at?” and “What does this student have difficulty with?” and “How does this student plan to work on this?” and “How can we utilize this student’s gifts?” It was like a plan . . . a reflection on their learning.  I think every kid should have to fill this out and think about their learning.  These are questions that we all have but don’t stop to think about.

We should do something like a personality test to help students think about that stuff.

R. Lounsbury: To help see what you’re like?  That”s a great idea.

A. Louns: UD does that, and some of my friends want to change their careers and they utilize that program.  Even [Mrs. Lounsbury] isn’t done learning.

R. Lounsbury: Yeah, I might go back to school [laughs].

A. Lounsbury: At UD, the test is 100 questions you answer on instinct and they match your personality profile with other people’s personality profiles who have reported they’re very happy in their jobs.  They don’t organize the jobs by what you’re good at, but what makes you the happiest.

R. Lounsbury:  A lot of the things that make you happy are the things you’re good at.  I don’t think a kid has to know their gifts right away.  That’s why I have problems with the AP classes.  Those classes were originally designed for when kids knew, “I want to go into this.”

Now it’s just for the credits.

R. Lounsbury: Exactly.  Now, it’s just another tool to get into college.  I recently talked to a student who’s a freshman in college and he said, “Mrs. Lounsbury, I didn’t have to take so many APs.” [laughs] He can’t even use half of them, and he’s still trying to figure out what he’s interested in.  You can use the APs for that but the pace is so horrifying and ridiculous that you don’t enjoy those things.  If you’re on a regular schedule, you take your time exploring.  Our curriculum could be different to include more exploration.

Mrs. R. Lounsbury, featured in Part I, is a physics and biology teacher at Charter and mother of Ms. A. Lounsbury.

Ms. A. Lounsbury teaches English to sophomores and freshmen, this year being her second at Charter.  Upon completing her high school education at Charter in 2008, she attended Moravian College majoring in English and environmental science.  Then, she received a degree in English education from Columbia University.  Now, as a teacher, she helps lead Science Ambassadors, a program that provides a science-centered afternoon program to elementary schools in the area.  As a CSW alumnus, she has seen the school as both the student and teacher.  This has enlightened her with a unique perspective, with which she sheds light on learning in school.  

 

How do you think we could harness student's’ uniqueness?

Mrs. R. Lounsbury: I don’t necessarily think a kid in high school is finished [understanding him or herself].  It’s not a time to practice [one’s gifts], but rather discover them.  And that’s what I think learning to understand does.  There are some that are obvious, like a guy is excellent at basketball: he can shoot and aim.  That’s a skillset he can utilize in his life and then it’s just a question of how he can practice that.  So the whole process of learning is [discovering] what you’re capable of.  It applies to a lot of different intelligences: in knowledge, a particular field, a keen memory, communication with others.  The way you discover your gifts is by doing things and being exposed to them and I think high school is still a part of that.  Many kids don’t start thinking about their gifts until college, which is a good time, but . . . you should start in high school.  You don’t really know [then] and that’s why it’s important to not label yourself too early.  It’s not a good way to think because it’s not necessarily true.  I think teachers can see a lot, and students need to have discussions with their teachers about what they see in you.

Ms. A. Lounsbury: I have noticed, at this school in particular, students tend to label themselves [by their class phase] like, “Oh, I’m not good at this because I’m in phase four,” or “I’m pretty good at this because I’m in phase five,” which is sad and untrue.  All of my classes have awesome “Ah ha!” moments, which is why each class is so fun to discuss with!  They are different experiences because each individual in every class has a valuable skill to offer.  This is exactly why you can’t label yourself too early.  It’s interesting.  To think I may not be this phase, it does not mean you’re bad at [the subject], it just takes a little longer to pick up on those skills or your brain processes it in a different way.  Everyone’s good at something, they just have to discover what that is .  . . .  It’s interesting being a Charter student seeing how it affects you guys still.

R. Lounsbury: I think it’s exploring what your gifts are. When I was taking special ed, they gave out this form called an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  Some of the questions on there were “What is this student good at?” and “What does this student have difficulty with?” and “How does this student plan to work on this?” and “How can we utilize this student’s gifts?” It was like a plan . . . a reflection on their learning.  I think every kid should have to fill this out and think about their learning.  These are questions that we all have but don’t stop to think about.

We should do something like a personality test to help students think about that stuff.

R. Lounsbury: To help see what you’re like?  That”s a great idea.

A. Louns: UD does that, and some of my friends want to change their careers and they utilize that program.  Even [Mrs. Lounsbury] isn’t done learning.

R. Lounsbury: Yeah, I might go back to school [laughs].

A. Lounsbury: At UD, the test is 100 questions you answer on instinct and they match your personality profile with other people’s personality profiles who have reported they’re very happy in their jobs.  They don’t organize the jobs by what you’re good at, but what makes you the happiest.

R. Lounsbury:  A lot of the things that make you happy are the things you’re good at.  I don’t think a kid has to know their gifts right away.  That’s why I have problems with the AP classes.  Those classes were originally designed for when kids knew, “I want to go into this.”

Now it’s just for the credits.

R. Lounsbury: Exactly.  Now, it’s just another tool to get into college.  I recently talked to a student who’s a freshman in college and he said, “Mrs. Lounsbury, I didn’t have to take so many APs.” [laughs] He can’t even use half of them, and he’s still trying to figure out what he’s interested in.  You can use the APs for that but the pace is so horrifying and ridiculous that you don’t enjoy those things.  If you’re on a regular schedule, you take your time exploring.  Our curriculum could be different to include more exploration.

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